Wherever you are today at 57 minutes after this hour, welcome the solstice. This celestial moment marks the day we honor Burning Man’s inception 37 years ago — the first time Larry Harvey, Jerry James, their kids, and friends built and burned a wooden Man on Baker Beach.
Burning a human effigy, and celebrating the solstice on a beach gathering are not revolutionary acts unto themselves; humanity has created these moments and imbued them with meaning since before recorded history. But the impetus that brought these two acts together ignited something new (and also ancient) in those early Burners. Maybe it soothed unmet desires for ritual, communion and continuity at a time when people were feeling increasingly disconnected.
By 1990, the original crew merged with the Cacophony Society and other instigators, and engineered a leap from beach to desert. Before long Burners were building massive fiery art and other wonders, organizing theme camps, erecting a Temple, and piloting wildly illuminated mutant vehicles.
In short, we had a city. And then we had a global community — Burners around the world made the 10 Principles their own, launching Regional Events and local Burning Man communities.
So, happy solstice to you. We hope you make time to commemorate this moment in whatever way is meaningful. Perhaps take a gander at our 365 Field Guide for tips on bringing Burning Man into your corner of the universe — on the solstice or any time. Around here today, we pause to remember Larry Harvey, our original instigator. He was a prolific reader and writer; his words are foundational to how Burning Man emerged as a global culture and community.
“Larry had no idea what he was starting when he lit that first fire on Baker Beach. It was an act of creation for its own sake, a sort of cultural big bang that would only acquire context through being. From the first person who was drawn to that flame to the most recent, wherever they may be in the world, we all add our own energy, and that primal act of ignition continues to accrete meaning through attraction. This is how culture is created. This is how a fire keeps burning.” – Stuart Mangrum, Director of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center
Learn More About Larry Harvey, the History of Burning Man, and Our Connection with the Solstice:
- Larry Harvey’s articles in the Burning Man Journal
- Out of Nothing, Everything: Conversations with Larry Harvey by Jeff Greenwald
- Videos and various articles at Larry Harvey: The Mind Under the Hat
- Explore Burning Man’s history on our Timeline
- Read about Burning Man’s early years in our Into the Zone series
Read Previous Years’ Solstice Posts:
- Remembering the Solstice Burn That Started It All
- Happy Solstice! It’s Burning Man’s Birthday
- Celebrate the Solstice with a Weekend of Community and Civic Engagement
- Thanks for Giving Thanks: Celebrating Larry Harvey’s Life and Legacy on the Solstice
Cover image of Baker Beach, 1989 (Photo by Stewart Harvey)